Advanced search

If there was a referendum on Europe....

(190 Posts)
CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 15-Jan-13 08:31:42

... which seems to be the hot topic... how do you think it would go?

Viviennemary Wed 23-Jan-13 13:56:56

I would vote to come out of the EU. It would be different if it was just a trade agreement. But it isn't. The union people voted for wasn't what it is today.

MoreBeta Wed 23-Jan-13 13:57:07

Like many people on the thread I severely doubt we will ever actually get the referendum. It has been promised before and didnt HAPPEN.

Why wait for 5 years before we have it?

Surely we could declare the terms on which we intend to stay in the EU, declare the date of the referendum to occur some time before the next general election and then open negotiations with the EU.

Problem is David Cameron has made it clear he does not believe in leaving the EU and knowing that the EU will now simply wait until after the next UK election and refuse to negotiate before then.

In the meantime Cameron will gradually become weaker and weaker and look more and more indecisive. The political uncertainty will be very damaging for the UK economy.

In the end I still think a reason will be found not to have the referendum. Some World crisis will emerge such as the break up of the Euro currency, a general global econOmic depression, War in Africa/Middle East.

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 14:01:01

I agree with that Morebeta. The indecision will not be a good thing for us and another reason why I don't think Cameron & Osbourne are heavy duty enough to lead us through this.

That said, I look over to the other side and fear Miliband & Balls even more. So it's a case of the least worst choice at the moment.

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 14:09:59

larry I posted two very long posts on this thread giving some concrete evidence relating to your statements on regulatory burdens on non-EU manufacturers and the disadvantages they have.

I know what I do is super boring and no one has probably read any of my posts but I'm trying to tell you that far from giving the UK a competitive advantage by freeing our businesses from tonnes of red tape, the UK leaving the EU will have a direct and immediate adverse competitive impact on many businesses here in the UK - not just manufacturers but logistics providers, importers, advertising, retail and legal to name a few off the top of my head.

shakes head and retreats back into lair

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 14:16:59

I just mentioned to a client over lunch about a referendum and what would happen if the UK pulled out. (Electronics manufacturer) He laughed rather nervously and said "don't even say that out loud, that's what keeps me up at night."

elizaregina Wed 23-Jan-13 14:25:05

"UK would claim the money back from Poland."

UK is currenlty heamoraging money for the NHS for NOT claiming back monies owed to the NHS from EU peoples using the NHS. The other EU countries are however very good at claiming back from us when we use one of thier hospitals.

I therefore have no confidence that we are claiming back on other areas from eu states for monies owed.

GlassOfPort Wed 23-Jan-13 14:25:12

I am an EU citizien who has been working in the UK for the last 10 years. If the UK were to leave the EU and force people like me to have visa and work permits, I would seriously consider moving elsewhere and so would a lot of people in my situation.

There are hundreds of thousand of us in London alone, highly educated professionals who pay high tax rates and contribute to the success of many British institutions (I work in a Russel Group University where the vast majority of the research staff are from outside the UK). I really don't think that making our life difficult would do a lot for this country's competitive edge.

retrorobot Wed 23-Jan-13 14:27:08

It is sad that the level of education and public discourse in the U.K. is so low that there are so many people who have so many entrenched misconceptions about the EU and its workings.

The agreement that Norway (and Iceland) has with the EU is called the European Economic Area. The way this works is that Norway gets free movement with the EU and in return Norway agrees to implement ALL of the EU laws in relation to free movement. Note that Norway has NO decision-making on those laws once they are agreed by the EU Norway has to implement them just like any EU member. Note also that the relevant laws in relation to free movement are not just in relation to free trade in goods. They also cover free movement of persons and freedom to provide services, i.e. immigration, so those of you complain about EU immigrants like me who are paying for their council houses and tax credits (while ignoring the enormous amount of immigration into the U.K. from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) are not going to get what you want.

The agreement that Switzerland has with the EU (actually, a set of agreements) but essentially work in the same way and provide for free movement of persons - Swiss into EU countries and EU countries into Switzerland. There is one extra provision which allows Switzerland to TEMPORARILY limit the number of EU workers taking up jobs in Switzerland if Swiss unemployment increases by more than 10 percent in a year compared to the average rate in the previous three years. (News article on this here: However, that provision has never been used and would only apply temporarily.

The reasons that Switzerland, Norway and Iceland don't join the EU are in large part because they don't want to be part of the EU's agriculture (Switzerland and Norway) and fisheries (Iceland and Norway) rules.

The EU was willing to agree to the agreements with Norway, Iceland and Switzerland because they are not very large countries and, in the case of Switzerland, road/rail access across Switzerland and the Alps is important to Germany and Italy. However, the EU is not going to agree to free trade in goods or services without free movement of workers.

The unpalatable truth for English people is that the main driver of low skilled low paid immigration (which, in fact, is more from outside Europe than it is from the EU) is tax credits which significantly increase the income of those with children. It's no co-incidence that the rise in this sort of immigration into the U.K. followed from Labour introducing tax credits. The problem of course is that there are huge numbers of English people on these benefits and the EU doesn't let there be one rule for people just because they were born in England and a different rule for others because they were not. It's still remarkable to me that English living in London in council housing at way below market rents complain that they have to compete for work with eastern Europeans who are living in private rented accommodation paying much more in rent.

If England leaves the EU then business in London, which is massively subsidising the rest of the U.K., is going to be decimated. The same will be the case for every car manufacturing plan in the U.K. (auto manufacturing being bright spark in this rececession).

There's plenty wrong with the EU - it's sclerotic decision-making, the grossly overpaid Brussels bureaucrats, the excessive regulation, the has-been politicians. But I'm not sure that the civil servants in Whitehall are much better. However, if you're going to contribute to this debate at least inform yourself about it. Whinging that you want to leave the EU because you've never had a vote to stay in would be like a Scottish person saying that they want to leave the U.K. because they never voted to be part of it.

JoanByers Wed 23-Jan-13 14:29:49

It's a nasty cynical stunt to promise this after the election.

Why don't they hold it next year, prior to a general election in 2015?

torychicetc Wed 23-Jan-13 14:42:15

I dont know how I would vote just now. But I do expect IN to win the eventual vote

trayelroht Wed 23-Jan-13 14:57:18

All 3 major political parties are liars, they have zero intention of giving us a choice.

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 15:48:55

<claps> @ retrorobot & xiaoxiong's detailed posts.

Cockleshell Wed 23-Jan-13 15:59:52

We export such a tiny amount to the EU, meanwhile we are being ruled by Brussels, and contributing huge funding.What ie it doing for us? Not a lot !

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 16:08:16

cockleshell European markets account for half of the UK’s overall trade and foreign investments. 3.5 million jobs in the UK are linked to the export of goods and services to the EU. I got those figures from BIS, they're from 2011.

So yeah, what's it doing for us!!??

somebloke123 Wed 23-Jan-13 16:40:41


"Linked to" indeed. You are not suggesting "dependent on" our membership of the EU. See my earlier post about how the 3.5 million figure was arrived at and misused.

thegreylady Wed 23-Jan-13 16:48:56

I would vote to leave we have surrendered too much of our sovereignty to Europe. I can't imagine being able to renegotiate the terms of our membership. So many member states are in deep trouble financially and France and,especially Germany , have a stranglehold on the rest. At the moment it seems as though, having failed to dominate Europe in two wars, Germany is en route to succeeding in 'peace'. We would be well out of it at least for now.

MajesticWhine Wed 23-Jan-13 16:59:01

I would vote "In", but I think the referendum is a daft idea.

JoanByers I guess they can't do it before an election, because the Lib Dems won't agree to a referendum.

LittleAbruzzenBear Wed 23-Jan-13 17:13:30

The UK signed up to the EU for business reasons not the other rubbish that seems to have taken over. However, retrorobot has made a very good post about why we should stay. Perhaps better the devil you know in the EU's case?

ILikeBirds Wed 23-Jan-13 17:27:07

I don't understand how anyone could say how they would vote as a simple In or Out question?

It's so much more complex than that.

I honestly don't see how you would turn back the clock on EU migrants either, doesn't London have the second largest French population after Paris?

maisiejoe123 Wed 23-Jan-13 17:43:05

Wondering whether we can grade countries differently dependant on their standing in the EU?

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 18:48:33

ILikeBirds I absolutely agree that it's so much more complex than In or Out.

I've tried to introduce some concrete examples from stuff I work with every day that will have massive adverse consequences in many significant areas (product safety, environmental etc) if people vote Out. No one has engaged with any of my examples at all, likely because they are too complicated and boring. But if the problems that will be caused are too complicated or boring, they shouldn't be allowed to be boiled down to an In/Out vote.

somebloke you claim the 3 million jobs figure was reached by one report by an economic research institute, doing work for a pro-EU lobbying group - ie. a report by NIESR in 2000. I have no idea about the soundness of this report. However the link I provided above is from 2010 and references Department from Business, Innovation and Skills data for the figure of 3.5 million jobs, rather than any NIESR report from 10 years previously. So unless we're now going to start second-guessing our own government's trade figures, I stand by the statement that 3.5 million jobs number.

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 18:53:26

In Jan 2012 400,000 UK citizens live permanently in Spain - about the same number as Polish citizens that live in the UK.

150,000 Brits live in France and 100,000 in Germany.

There are 300,000 Germans in the UK and 123,000 French.

data here from ONS and Eurostat

AtoZandbackagain Wed 23-Jan-13 19:06:58

The problem for the UK is that the EU is forging ahead with it's primary aim of 'ever closer union' which ultimately means one country called Europe with one currency, the Euro, one European Government, flag, anthem etc etc etc.

The Lisbon Treaty was a large leap towards this end state when it gave the EU legal personality for the first time i.e. the EU can now do things in it's own name.

So, a vote to stay IN means embracing the move towards 'ever closer union', andgiving even more control to the EU.

It would be great if Britain could renegoiate our membership but why should our fellow EU members agree to Britain having what could be more preferential terms than them? I cannot see Cameron getting any agreement on the Fisheries policy or the CAP or on restoring much of the sovereignity we have given up.

The only bargaining chip Cameron has is the £50 million a day that we pay into the EU.

If we can't get agreement then we have to decide IN or OUT.

legalalien Wed 23-Jan-13 19:07:02

In addition I spend a lot of my time advising companies from non-EU jurisdictions, including countries like Norway, how they can comply with EU laws, which they have absolutely no control over but have to comply with anyway if they want access to the market. As you can imagine this costs them a huge amount of money and they have no say in the content of those regulations but have to follow them anyway if they want access to the market. Again the UK currently takes a leadership role in drawing up these regulations but if we withdrew from the EU we would be subject to all the regulations but would have no say in their reasonableness, scope and effect on our own industries. As the vast majority of our trade is with the EU and many multinationals manage their regulatory compliance work in the UK, leaving the EU would be a hammer blow as we would continue to have to comply but would have absolutely no influence over what our regulatory obligations are. This will massively increase costs for UK businesses, UK-based importers and and drive multinationals elsewhere.

But surely it's increasingly the case - certainly in some policy areas such as financial services - that notwithstanding our membership we have little say in the reasonableness, scope and effect of relevant legislation, particularly as the Commission moves from a Directive approach to a Regulation approach, regulatory bodies become more centralised eg ESMA and once the 2014 changes to qualified majority voting kick in. And in areas covered by maximum harmonisation Directives we don't have the flexibility that you suggest further up the thread.

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 19:19:36

legalalien not in my policy areas. Civil servants and ministers from Defra, BIS, the NMO, the HSE and increasingly DECC are influential in the drafting of those Directives and Regulations. They are then lobbied by business and MPs here in the UK and make amendments and respond to consultations based on our domestic concerns.

We've been working on a recent issue where the French producers of a particular construction material have banded together screaming that the European Commission's regulation of a certain substance via a harmonised directive (ie, one with no scope as you rightly pointed out for MSs to derogate or set different domestic standards) has been set to maximally benefit UK producers and disadvantage French ones and there's nothing the French can do about it. Direct result of a particularly enormous UK construction company's lobbying of the UK government.

So you win some, you lose some - but if you're not in the EU, you never win any except by chance.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now